Power training with high resistance combined with the usual endurance training can improve the efficiency of cyclists and the running economy of runners. Runners can also use explosive power training. This works less for cyclists.
In endurance sports, the maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max) is an important factor. Also, the required energy at a certain speed, the maximum power (Wmax) of an athlete, and the maximum lactate level are important. Endurance athletes often think that power training may adversely affect their endurance performance. Rønnestad and Mujika have studied cyclists and runners to answer the question if power training can have a positive or negative impact on the duration performance.
They did an extensive literature study on the effect of power training combined with endurance training on endurance performance when running and cycling. They distinguish two forms of power training: explosive power training and power training with high resistance. When an athlete performs a move very quickly with low resistance (up to 60% of 1 RM), the power is explosive. Power training with high resistance, the athlete must overcome a high resistance (1-15 times at 1RM).
The article by Rønnestad and Mujika shows that power training can improve muscle function due to an increased maximal muscle strength. What kind of power training an athlete chooses for the duration performance when running does not matter. For cyclists power training with high resistance is much better than explosive power training for improving cycling performance. Also some of the articles described an increase in the maximum lactate value of endurance athletes who had done power training. Also heavy power training for cyclists appears to have a positive effect on the Wmax, which means that maximum sprint speed increases. However, not all studies have found a positive effect. Rønnestad and Mujika think this is because the final tests used were too short (4 to 5 minutes submaximal exercise) to determine the differences between athletes who had done power training and athletes who did not.
Both in cycling and running power training combined with endurance training has a positive effect on endurance performance. The athlete must start with at least 2 times per week power training, preferably at the beginning of the racing season. The positive effects of power training can then be maintained during the competition season with one weekly power training workout. In any case, none of the studies showed that power training had a negative effect on performance.